What seemed like an eternity to him could be finally over for Tashaun Gipson.
The Browns Pro Bowl safety has been sidelined since the third quarter of Cleveland's Week 4 loss to San Diego. It's the second significant injury Gipson's suffered since the second half of 2014.
Needless to say, Gipson, who is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, is raring to go and ready to provide a boost to the Browns defense.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Gipson after Friday's practice. The conversation follows:
CB.com: Walk through the last through weeks and explain how tough it's been to be on the sidelines.
Gipson: Anytime, as a player, you want to be a competitor. You want to get out there and want to compete with your guys. It's been a lot of things. You feel like had you been in the game, you could have most definitely changed the outcome of that play and potentially the outcome of the game. It's just being a competitor and just wanting to be the best. I guess the frustration is all the hard work we put in in training camp and the preseason and to come out here and miss a couple of games due to injury. The frustration is in that aspect and for us to be in a slump where we're 2-5 right now, we're a lot better than that. I guess that's the frustration. It's just been a lot of rehabbing and getting ready mentally. Physically, I could only do so much when I was down. I just kind of support those guys and give them my mental preparation and things like that. I kind of give them what I know and my knowledge of the game. That's what I did for the last three weeks but now I'm back on the field and I'm excited.
A look back at the previous matchups between the Browns and Cardinals. Cleveland leads the all-time series 33-13-3.
CB.com: How uplifting has this week been?
Gipson: Oh, man, it's been super uplifting. I'm just blessed to be able to feel in good health and good strength first and foremost. Missing a game and missing substantial time last year and missing these two-three games this year, it makes you appreciate this game that much more. I've been a victim to two accidental injuries; get rolled up on by my teammate last year and then Joe runs into my knee. It's things like that where you can't take these things for granted. Just being out with my teammates has been an exciting thing. Being out there running, feeling good has been most definitely exciting.
CB.com: Sunday could mark just the third time this season the entire starting secondary and K'Waun Williams is active for a game. How tough has that been?
Gipson: K'Waun got hit with the concussion early and missed a couple games. Joe (Haden) missed a game early and missed two on the back end and I missed my three straight. That's definitely unfortunate for this secondary. We had high hopes and big goals for us heading into the season. We still definitely can accomplish those things but it's going to be real refreshing and real exciting for us all to be out there at the same time. Me and Joe coming back with fresh legs, Donte (Whitner) and K'Waun and Tramon (Williams) have been playing at a high level. It's exciting to get us all back and I just hope we can all gel together and play some good football Sunday.
CB.com: What has to happen for you to accomplish the goals you set before the season?
Gipson: We just got to go out there and play football. We just have to go out there and be us at the end of the day. We just got to go out there and be us and not really worry about the outside talk, not really worry about the pressure, not even worry about any other team trying to say, 'hey, we want to be the best secondary.' We just got to go out there and play football because we've got a bunch of guys that undoubtedly know how to play football. That's one thing you can't take from us. I know that us back five on that back end, I know we're going to do our job. The defense, we'll continue to piece things together until we get things right, but I know for us in that DB room, we take pride with what we do and we got all our guys healthy and ready to play Sunday. It's going to be exciting.
CB.com: How does defense recreate a performance like the Denver game when it had three interceptions?
Gipson: That just comes with the mental preparation. We knew when we came into that game, we had a keen sense of the game plan and we understood what Peyton (Manning) wants to do and we went out and executed it. At the end of the day, it's the mental preparation and execution. If we can do that, I feel like undoubtedly we can play with any offense. You look at it and say, 'hey man, Peyton Manning should go down as one of the top two best quarterbacks in NFL history. For us to have that type of success against him -- people can say what they want about his age and the decline he's probably having this year, but make no mistake about it, he's still one of the best to ever play this game. That was a confidence booster for us and we didn't even have two of our guys back there. If we just go out there and execute and we take care of the mental side, I think that physically, once we get out there and get the bullets flying, I think things will definitely come together.
CB.com: What'd you learn while being on the sidelines?
Gipson: Understanding how the game works. I was just in the classroom and not physically able to participate, so I had to kick my mental preparation into overdrive. Just looking at it and understanding the small nuances of the game that can help change the game. You look at it and say, 'hey, this is specifically what they like doing on this down and distance and this specific call and how they're attacking us as a defense.' You begin to try to expand your thinking of how you would look at yourself if you're game planning against yourself. Just little things I felt like would help my game and could eventually and ultimately help this defense perform better.
CB.com: What kind of threat does the Arizona passing game pose?
Gipson: I think right now they're playing like one of the best. I'd say you'd have to put them in the top three passing attacks in the league right now. Carson Palmer is playing at a high level and he's not turning the ball over much. He's got a high volume of touchdowns. He's got three good receivers that are deep threats, especially (Michael) Floyd and (John) Brown. Those guys can stretch the field, Brown specifically because of his speed and Floyd is a big target that can go up and make those catches. Larry Fitzgerald is just Larry Fitzgerald. He's definitely a Hall of Famer in my eyes. You've got guys like that and all of them are playing at a high level. Anytime you've got a quarterback like that who can make every single throw and wide receivers who can run every single route, it's going to be a challenge for sure. The best secondaries embrace these types of challenges and they step up to the challenge and that's what it comes down to. I tip my hat off to those guys and it's going to be a fun game Sunday.